April 30, 2010

The religion of the New York Times

We all know, I suppose, that the New York Times isn’t fair. In his latest column in Commonweal, Kenneth Woodward provides an enlightening example in this respect:

In its all-hands-on-deck drive to implicate the pope in diocesan cover-ups of abusive priests, the Times has relied on a steady stream of documents unearthed or supplied by Jeff Anderson, the nation’s most aggressive litigator on behalf of clergy-abuse victims. Fairness dictates that the Times give Anderson at least a co-byline.

After all, it was really Anderson who “broke” the story on March 25 about Fr. Lawrence Murphy and his abuse of two hundred deaf children a half-century ago in Wisconsin. Reporter Laurie Goodstein says her article emerged from her own “inquiries,” but the piece was based on Anderson documents. Indeed, in its ongoing exercise in J’accuse journalism, the Times has adopted as its own Anderson’s construal of what took place.

But as I have already assumed, such unfairness is not new, nor, unfortunately, is it confined to that newspaper alone. In all probability, what is really new (and peculiar) in the case of the Times is something else. At least, that’s what Woodward maintains in his piece, entitled “The Church of the Times,” in which he makes a well-argued comparision of the NYT and … the Catholic Church.

[L]ike the Church of Rome, the Times exercises a powerful magisterium or teaching authority through its editorial board. There is no issue, local or global, on which these (usually anonymous) writers do not pronounce with a papal-like editorial “we.” Like the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the editorial board is there to defend received truth as well as advance the paper’s political, social, and cultural agendas. One can no more imagine a Times editorial opposing any form of abortion—to take just one of that magisterium’s articles of faith—than imagine a papal encyclical in favor.

The Times, of course, does not claim to speak infallibly in its judgments on current events. (Neither does the pope.) But to the truly orthodox believers in the Times, its editorials carry the burden of liberal holy writ. As the paper’s first and most acute public editor, Daniel Okrent, once put it, the editorial page is “so thoroughly saturated in liberal theology that when it occasionally strays from that point of view the shocked yelps from the left overwhelm even the ceaseless rumble of disapproval from the right.” Okrent’s now famous column was published in 2004 under the headline “Is the New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?” and I will cite Okrent more than once because he, too, reached repeatedly for religious metaphors to describe the ambient culture of the paper.

It’s fascinating, isn’t it? That’s also why Fr. John Zuhlsdorf (thanks!) is probably right when he calls the NYT “Hell’s Bible.” After all, it was the current NYT publisher, Arthur Ochs “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr., who described his personal faith this way: “I have the Times. That’s my religion. That’s what I believe in, and it’s a hell of a thing to hold on to.”

April 29, 2010

Common sense

Tim James, the Republican candidate for governor of Alabama, believes “common sense” will win out over “political correctness.” Hence, his new ad, in which he argues that Alabama’s driver’s license exam should be given only in English. “Why do our politicians make use give our drivers license test in 12 languages,” he says. “This is Alabama. We speak English. If you want to live here, learn it.”

The ad, which comes in the middle of an emotional debate over immigration reform, has become incredibly popular (more than 150,000 views in just a few hours). And I suppose I can guess why. How about you? Ok, maybe you need some time to think this over… In the meantime, watch the video:

April 27, 2010

And Germany made the Greek crisis much, much worse

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” This piece of wisdom is known as Murphy’s Law, and I absolutely hate it, but Prof. Gustav A. Horn, the director of the Macroeconomic Policy Institute (IMK) at Germany’s Hans-Böckler Foundation, says it currently applies extraordinarily well to economic policy in the euro zone. He gets angry with “the German government’s submissiveness to the financial markets and its cowardice towards the tabloid press (the mass circulation daily Bild, for example, wrote in a headline: ‘You Greeks Aren’t Getting a Thing from Us’).” A cowardice which could get very expensive for German taxpayers.

On the one side there are the Greeks, who clearly still do not have their financial statistics under control and who produce one false report after another about the country's budget deficit. On the other side are the Germans, who delight in hindering a rapid and unambiguous European response to the Greek crisis -- in the process driving the cost of a solution through the roof.
Both Greece's calculation errors and the diva-like reluctance of the German government to help Athens are nothing more than an invitation to speculators to bet on the demise of the southern European country. This also explains why risk premiums on Greek government bonds have shot up to previously unimagined heights in recent days. The Greek government must now pay such high interest rates to refinance its debts that it can no longer get by without foreign assistance, despite recent tax increases and massive wage cuts.

But Murphy’s Law isn’t the only piece of wisdom here. As Italy’s Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti told reporters in Washington last Friday, “If your neighbor’s house catches fire, it’s not to your advantage to sit back and do nothing.” To put it quite simply, he argued, if you don’t step in, “you cannot fool yourself into thinking that just because your house is bigger and more beautiful, that it won’t be at risk. In case you are wondering, I am speaking about Germany.” Others may think differently, but this is the piece of wisdom I would suggest here.



Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

~ William Ernest Henley, Book of Verses, 1888

InvictusArguably William Ernest Henley’s best-remembered work is the above poem, which inspired Nelson Mandela during his 27 years in prison, and which gives the film Invictus its title. In the movie Mandela gives the poem—as a metaphor for never giving up—to François Pienaar, the captain of the South African rugby team, before the start of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, when the Springboks, widely assumed to stand a snowball’s chance in hell against the New Zeeland All Blacks and their superstar winger Jonah Lomu, created one of the greatest upsets in recent sporting history.

As a matter of fact, Clint Eastwood’s Invictus, which I recently had the pleasure of seeing, tells you many things about Nelson Mandela (played with gravity and grace by Morgan Freeman), since “it is predominantly an absorbing character study of one of the most extraordinary characters of our time,” but it wisely does not attempt to tell Mandela’s whole life story. Though, according to some critics, “the trouble with Invictus is that it is more monument than motion picture,” I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it to anyone.

In the video below, the real François Pienaar recalls the impact that Nelson Mandela had on the historic 1995 RWC victory.

Nine reasons to be alarmed about Biden's stance on Iran

According to Vice President Biden Iran has never been more isolated and the international community never more united against it. He also thinks proposed (tougher) UN sanctions against Iran—the US said yesterday it wants to see a sanctions resolution submitted “as soon as possible” within the UN Security Council—will stop Tehran’s nuclear weapons program. Wishful thinking? Realistic hope? Well, apart from the obvious objections about whether or not new sanctions will actually serve the West’s interests, here are nine reasons why to be alarmed about Biden’s stance on Iran. By Peter Huessy, president of GeoStrategic Analysis and Senior Defense Consultant at the National Defense University Foundation.

April 24, 2010

A Big Nasty Financial Mess

~ “LETTERS FROM AMERICA” - by The Metaphysical Peregrine ~

President Obama continued his attacks on America this week, focusing on Wall Street. He and his political party take millions from the financial industry and then attacks them, which isn't as crazy as it sounds.

For decades the Democrats and their propagandists in the Main Stream Media, have repeated the lie that the Republicans are the party of big business, and they are the party of the people. (Inconvenient fact: for the past several election cycles, most political contributions to the Republicans have been from small donors, regular folk, and the Dems have reaped $millions from corporations.) This week Obama and the Dems launched legal proceedings against financial giant Goldman Sachs and are introducing legislation for the government to take over the financial sector of the US economy.

The term being bantered about is “crony capitalism” because what the Dems are doing is finalizing the cozy relationship between government and the financial market. As far as I can tell, this is how it works.

The US government (specifically Obama and the Dems) have, in a little over a year, run up a couple $trillions more in debt. The government borrows money from the banks to pay the debt. But the banks were in a lot of trouble, so the government borrowed a lot of money from the banks (the government remember doesn’t have any money) to bail out the banks because “they are too big to fail”. So the banks that have lost $billions are bailed out by the money they loaned to the government, who bails out the banks that lost $billions. Got that?

As part of Obama’s move to take over the financial sector, he’s decided to make an example of Goldman Sachs, arguably the most powerful and richest of financial institutions. Thing is, Obama and his administration are Goldman Sachs people. The play is just a ploy. They all have this planed out, and ultimately Goldman Sachs will be a huge beneficiary of government largess. This will pretty much solidify the relationship.

Let’s start with the $994,795 in Goldman Sachs campaign cash the Obama bagged for the last election. Corporations can’t directly give money, so they get their people pony up indirectly. Question to Obama, if Goldman Sachs is so evil and corrupt, shouldn’t you return the money? (Previously the Dems demanded that any money the Republicans got from Goldman Sachs be returned.) It’s tainted. Then there are the people in his administration. Goldman Sachs partner Gary Gensler is Obama’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission head. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was on a $3,000 monthly retainer from Goldman Sachs while he worked as Clinton’s chief fundraiser, plus he received about $80,000 in cash from Goldman Sachs during his four terms in Congress. Former Goldman Sachs lobbyist Mark Patterson serves under Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner as his top deputy and dispenser of the TARP bailout — $10 billion of it to Goldman Sachs. Penny Pritzker was head of Superior Bank of Chicago, a major lender of subprime loans, got into a lot of legal trouble, so hired a lawyer Tom Donilon, who is now Obama’s deputy national security adviser. Donilon made about $4 million representing badly run banks that lost millions, including Goldman Sachs. White House National Economic Council head Larry Summers has ties to Goldman Sachs. He’s buddies with former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, and has worked for Rubin.

Just before the civil suit was launched, Obama did an interview on the cable business news channel CNBC, and was asked if there had been any recent contact between him and Goldman Sachs about the pending law suit. Obama said, nope, first he heard of it was right there on CNBC. We shouldn’t be surprised, since Obama lies about everything, that White visitor logs show that Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein had visited the White House four times in the past few months.

This is such a mess, and so confusing. If financial institutions aren’t politically correct, and obedient, they will be crushed by the Dems and Obama administration. Goldman Sachs will have to keep their coffers open to Obama, as will any other financial group, or they will be crushed. Be a capitalist crony or else…

Confused yet? We are. We just know that the Dems and Obama, after taking over the health care and health insurance industries, much of the auto industry, of the student loan industry for higher education, crushed the energy industry, opened the border to illegal immigrants, provides more civil rights to terrorists than citizens, is well on his way to turning America into Amerika, a fascist State. The November elections can't get here fast enough.

April 23, 2010

A Party is born

Someone says this is the announcement of a political divorce, someone else says that Gianfranco Fini, the head of the Chamber of Deputies, has just committed a political suicide. But I think neither of the two hypotheses is correct. In my opinion—and that of many others—a “true” party was born yesterday, instead: the People of Freedom (PdL), which until yesterday was little more than a political movement, despite three resounding victories in 2008 (general election), 2009 (European elections) and 2010 (regional elections).

Fini, who headed the conservative National Alliance before it merged with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia to create the current PDL, threatened last week to set up his own faction because in his opinion the Northern League, which also supports the government, has been granted too many concessions. “It’s clear that the Northern League, right now, is the dominant force” in the government majority, he said in a statement. But the showdown took place just yesterday, when, in a rare open debate among the top rungs of the party, Gianfranco Fini levelled a raft of criticisms at the style and substance of the prime minister’s leadership, accusing him of stifling internal party debate and claiming that there were some in the party that “do not full agree” with Berlusconi’s stance on many issues, such as the government’s tough line on immigration and the plans to devolve powers to the regions, which in his opinion have not been properly thought out or discussed.

What followed was quite an amusing spectacle

Mr Berlusconi stepped up to the podium right after Mr Fini's speech, criticising his ally for making political statements while holding a post that requires him to be impartial and for not participating in the campaign for regional elections last month to thundering applause.
"A speaker of the house should not make political statements. If you want to make them, you should leave your post," Mr Berlusconi told Mr Fini in front of 477 party representatives.
The prime minister also accused Mr Fini's allies of "exposing the party to public mockery" by criticising his party on television.
"It doesn't seem to me the issues you have raised are of great importance compared to what we have done as a government," Mr Berlusconi said.
In a visually striking riposte, Mr Fini stood up and stepped toward the stage where Mr Berlusconi was speaking, pointing his finger and shouting: "What are you saying? What are you saying? ... Are you going to kick me out?"
Mr Fini later said he would not step down as Chamber speaking and his supporters would not leave Mr Berlusconi's party.

But above all I think the whole thing was a celebration of democracy, just what the People of Freedom party needed, given the almost obvious lack of democratic debate in a party led by a charismatic personality. In fact, for one thing, as everybody knows, in such parties, when the personality leaves office, the movement lapses, and that’s precisely what Italian conservatives don’t want to happen. Needless to say, at any rate, Berlusconi and his most fervent supporters need to realize that internal dissent is not itself a crisis but, rather, priceless insurance against disaster.

That’s why, being neither a supporter of Fini nor a Berlusconist, but simply a conservative, I consider what happened yesterday to be a positive step forward, even though I disagree with Fini on most issues and agree with Berlusconi on the majority of his views.

April 21, 2010

UK: Is Nick Clegg anti-American and anti-Israel?

A new survey by ICM Research for the left-wing Guardian, released Monday, put Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats at 30%, just three points behind the Tories (30%) and ahead of Labour back on 28%.

Asked if he truly believed he could become Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said he was “acutely aware” of the volatility of the polls but implied anything was possible: “I want to be the next Prime Minister,” he said. “There is a fluidity in this election we haven’t seen for perhaps a generation,” he added.

I can’t predict what’s going to happen. All I know is that the old anchors, the old patterns and the old established routines of elections are breaking down, because for years the old allegiances which propped up the old parties are breaking down.

It may actually be true, and it wouldn’t be a bad thing in and of itself, but perhaps it also depends on what we mean by “the old patterns” and “the old allegiances.” Does Mr Clegg think, to make a couple of examples, that the ‘special relationship’ between the US and the UK, and the traditional pro-Israel attitude on the part of British governments, are among those old patterns/allegiances which are breaking down? Well, here and here is what Nile Gardiner has to say in this regard in his Telegraph blog. And here is what he thinks about Nick Clegg’s attitude towards the NATO alliance.

April 20, 2010

Female promiscuity causes earthquakes

An intriguing piece in The Weekly Standard, the American neoconservative opinion magazine, about a leading Iranian cleric who told worshippers in Tehran that he blames earthquakes on female promiscuity: “Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes.” This may sound wacky, says the magazine, but it can teach us a valuable lesson: “The question it poses is: How well do we understand the thinking of the Iranian leadership on questions small and large?”

There then follows a quote from a CIA study and a suggestion by the article’s author: We have just to change the word ‘Soviet’ to ‘Iran’ in a certain passage from the essay—where the Soviet Union was described as “a strange and idiosyncratic polity, not to be understood or dealt with without considerable conscious effort”—and the difficulty we face becomes readily apparent.

It may be true, of course. Other cultures, other lifestyles and different ways of thinking, etc. But, paraphrasing the interesting question at the end of the article, one might well ask, “If promiscuous women can cause earthquakes, what kinds of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s behavior might cause a nuclear bomb to detonate or be detonated?”

Distrust, discontent, anger (or, the American people and their Government)

According to a new series of Pew Research Center surveys, nearly 80 percent of Americans are more sceptical of Washington than ever, and a desire for smaller government is especially evident since Barack Obama took office. Public confidence in the federal government is at one of the lowest points in a half-century. There is a perfect storm of conditions associated with distrust of government—a dismal economy, an unhappy public, and epic discontent with Congress and elected officials. This anti-government feeling has driven the tea party movement, which has a small but fervent antigovernment constituency and could be a wild card in this November’s election. Please note that many Republicans (28%), and Independents who lean Republican (30%), say the tea party movement represents their point of view better than the GOP. (See also here and here)

April 14, 2010

Google convicted: it was the profit's fault

“Judge Magi’s full judgment will make for interesting reading once it’s published,” someone said after (at the end of last February) three Google executives were convicted by the court of Milan for failing to prevent publication on the search engine of a video—posted in 2006 on Google Video, a now-defunct service that Google ran before it bought YouTube—that showed an autistic boy being bullied by four students at a Turin school. Well, now judge Oscar Magi has spoken (see also here). In a 111-page court document released on Monday (pdf, in Italian), he claims that what prompted his verdict were “attempts to profit” from the video on the part of Google. In other words, the reason Google didn’t remove the video was that the Internet giant wanted to sell ads on the video.

The judge said that the Internet was not an “unlimited prairie where everything is permitted and nothing can be prohibited.” He didn’t say, however, that Google had to monitor all the content uploaded to its platforms, but suggested that Google could be more vigilant, and that it had an obligation to make European privacy policies clear to third-party users of its platforms. “In simple words,” said Alfredo Robledo, one of the prosecutors, quoting a passage in Judge Magi’s ruling, “it is not the writing on the wall that constitutes a crime for the owner of the wall, but its commercial exploitation can.”

Google, in turn, said in a statement that it was studying the decision, but…

as we said when the verdict was announced, this conviction attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built. If these principles are swept aside, then the Web as we know it will cease to exist, and many of the economic, social, political and technological benefits it brings could disappear. These are important points of principle, which is why we and our employees will vigorously appeal this decision.

Along with defenders of Internet freedom worldwide and many Internet experts, I couldn’t agree more with this. For instance, as the NYT reports, according to Juan Carlos de Martin, the founder of the Nexa Center at the Polytechnic University in Turin, which studies Internet use in Italy, the judge’s reasoning would throw a lot of organizations and institutions into legal limbo as they awaited a final ruling on the case by Italy’s highest court, which could take years. “The legal uncertainty could discourage business and social initiatives; no one wants to be criminalized because of what they host online,” he said. But one does not need to be an Internet expert, nor a genius (I’m afraid, however, that this is not the case with the Milan judges, if I may say so), to predict what will almost inevitably happen.

Oscar Magi is the same judge who last November sentenced (in absentia) 23 American citizens to up to eight years in prison for their part in the secret abduction of a Muslim cleric in 2003 and his rendition for questioning in Egypt, where he was imprisoned and tortured.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland
I didn’t see the film, but my wife and daughter did, and told me they enjoyed it a lot. Almost as much, I might say, as Mirino did—and he is a good judge of such matters…

“All this may read like a review. Be as it may. But it comes from yet another visual interpreter of the classic, therefore it might have a shade more significance. It's also written as a homage by a proud father who has had the great pleasure of seeing his immortalised 'Alice' free herself in a similar, fatidic way, and also grow up to become a beautiful queen.”

April 12, 2010

The Vatican's new blog

It's official: the Vatican Information Service—a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father—has now its own blog.

At the moment, the posts are simply a recapitulation of the service’s daily email digests (sent to subscribers every day at 3 p.m.). Latest post:
Guide to Understanding Basic CDF Procedures concerning Sexual Abuse Allegations

Via The Anglo-Catholic.

April 9, 2010

What the New York Times does not translate

I have already said what I think about the whole thing: nothing can ever excuse the sexual abuse of a minor, as much as nothing can justify covering these abuses up, but claims against Pope Benedict’s handling of sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, in particular those according to which he declined to defrock a Milwaukee priest who molested deaf students, are groundless and brought in bad faith. Therefore, since the above mentioned claims have inspired some interesting reactions in the press, more than to repeat myself, I want to suggest some good readings on the subject.

The first is an article, issued a couple of days ago by the influential Italian political newspaper Il Foglio, in which the New York Times is criticized for relying on a computer-generated translation from Italian to English of important responses from the Vatican to the Milwakee sex abuse case. The failure to translate led the NYT to argue that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was protecting the sexually abusive priest.“Behind the accusations,” says Il Foglio’s senior writer Paolo Rodari, “there is a gross translation mistake.” Quite discouraging, to say the least. Read generous excerpts here.

The second is an April 2 piece by Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal. It’s an insightful and thoughtful look into what the whole thing is all about, a painful acknowledgement of the Catholic Church’s Catastrophe, but also a vigorous defence of the Pope. It’s worth reading and meditating on. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Some blame the scandals on Pope Benedict XVI. But Joseph Ratzinger is the man who, weeks before his accession to the papacy five years ago, spoke blisteringly on Good Friday of the "filth" in the church. Days later on the streets of Rome, the Italian newspaper La Stampa reported, Cardinal Ratzinger bumped into a curial monsignor who chided him for his sharp words. The cardinal replied, "You weren't born yesterday, you understand what I'm talking about, you know what it means. We priests. We priests!" The most reliable commentary on Pope Benedict's role in the scandals came from John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, who argues that once Benedict came to fully understand the scope of the crisis, in 2003, he made the church's first real progress toward coming to grips with it.
There are three great groups of victims in this story. The first and most obvious, the children who were abused, who trusted, were preyed upon and bear the burden through life. The second group is the good priests and good nuns, the great leaders of the church in the day to day, who save the poor, teach the immigrant, and, literally, save lives. They have been stigmatized when they deserve to be lionized. And the third group is the Catholics in the pews—the heroic Catholics of America and now Europe, the hardy souls who in spite of what has been done to their church are still there, still making parish life possible, who hold high the flag, their faith unshaken. No one thanks those Catholics, sees their heroism, respects their patience and fidelity. The world thinks they're stupid. They are not stupid, and with their prayers they keep the world going, and the old church too.

The third is an April 6 WSJ piece by Bill McGurn. He argues that claims that then-Cardinal Ratzinger declined to defrock the Milwaukee priest rely upon documents supplied by a leading lawyer in lawsuits against the Catholic Church. He charges that Laurie Goodstein, the author of the two New York Times articles, did not sufficiently disclose this connection and advises more “journalistic skepticism” about the narrative of an attorney who stands to make millions. In fact, Jeff Anderson, the attorney in question, has charged that Pope Benedict is the head of an “international conspiracy” to cover up crimes and evade the law. Read generous excerpts here.

April 8, 2010

Plastic gondolas? No thank you, say Venetians

A shipyard in southern Italy has offered a low-cost version of the traditional Venetian boat, an exact replica of the wooden original but with some significant advantages. But according to authorities even the idea of a plastic gondola is unthinkable … Read the rest.

Fed up with Media bias

A new Rasmussen Report survey finds that 55% of U.S. voters think Media bias is a bigger problem in politics today than big campaign contributions:

Voters ages 30 to 49 are the most wary of the media’s influence on politics today.
Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Republicans and 62% of unaffiliated voters say media bias is the bigger problem in politics, a view shared by just 37% of Democrats. The plurality (46%) of Democrats says campaign contributions are a bigger problem.
Sixty-five percent (65%) of Mainstream voters and 54% of the Political Class agree that the bigger problem facing politics is media bias.
As far as voters are concerned, liberal is the most unpopular of five common political labels.

Thanks: Leslie Carbone.

April 7, 2010

Why I stand for the Pope

The Pope, as everybody can see, has been under attack by the Press since just before Holy Week. This may have a very simple explanation. But first let me say this as a preamble: nothing excuses the sexual abuse of a minor, as much as nothing excuses covering these abuses up. With this being said, here is a plausible explanation: “This latest onslaught of hyperventilating media self-righteousness”—in Fr. Philip Powell words—“is anything but an attempt to throw mud on the Holy Father […] just when the Pope is most visible to the world as preacher and teacher of the Gospel,” that is during Holy Week and Easter. This happens every year. As Steven at The Metaphysical Peregrine summarizes, “We had the (anti Christian) Da Vinci Code movie, emphasis on the Gospel of Judas and how it takes down Christianity, James Cameron finding Jesus’ casket (so obviously he wasn’t resurrected), and nonsense that Jesus was gay.”

This year the attack—a personal and direct one—is based on a New York Times piece about how the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger ignored a case of pedophilia. Yet, along with Steven, one might ask oneself why at no time did the author of the article interview any of the people involved in the Milwaukee case with Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, the pedophile priest:

Fairness, and good journalism, you know, is getting both sides of a story, which the Jurassic Press has decided to not do unless it fits their Secularist agenda. From several sources I’ve tried to create a timeline of what happened, and why I think Goldstein is a liar, and the NY Times supported her. In this, I hope to provide something closer to the truth, doing journalism as I was trained to do, though I don’t have access to interview the players.

That’s also why, along with Fr. Philip Powell, I think that what media attacks on the Pope are designed to do is not to bear witness to the truth, nor an honest search for it, but rather “to demoralize the faithful into surrendering hope, thus giving less faithful Catholics the excuse they want to abandon the Church’s unwavering teaching on difficult moral issues.” How does “the system” work? Here is how Paul describes it (Romans 1:28-30):

They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil.

The Abbey of Piona

It’s always the same story when I have to deal with monks—a question I should not ask (but which I regularly ask), and an answer I would not like to hear: “How many of you are there in the Abbey?” to which the answer is, “Not many, as you can see, but this is not the problem… the problem is the future, there are few vocations!” This always fills me with sadness...

This time, however, the old Cistercian monk was far less laconic than most of the other monks to whom I asked the same question. “You know, the youngest among us is 65… Yeah, when people come here they say, ‘Wow, you live in paradise, what an amazing place is this!’ But when I tell them ‘Then, why don’t you join us?’ well, they have a good laugh and say ‘Oh no, thank you Father…’” He laughed in turn, but after a while, shaking his head, he added, “I really don’t know what will come after us.”

Yet, to see the glass half full, I must say that the Abbey of Piona, where I have just come back from after attending Easter Triduum, is really an amazing place. And that’s also why I feel like I have to write about it.

The Abbey of Piona stands in a wonderful position, on a promontory at the top of Lake Como—where Hollywood superstar George Clooney owns a villa (showing a certain talent in choosing where to live!)—in Lombardy (North-western Italy). It was founded by Cluniac monks in the 12th century, but now, after centuries of abandon, is run by the Benedictine Cistercian congregation of Casamari, who had been given it by the Rocca Family in 1937. “When we came here,” the old monk told us, “we found just a heap of ruins.” Now everything has been restored to its former glory: an immense effort, crowned with complete success. “After all it was we Cistercians and Benedictines who drained the Po Valley, back in the 12th century, did you know?”

Of course I know, Father. And it’s not the only nor the greatest debt we owe to you all. I personally owe to you—si parva licet componere magnis—three days of perfect happiness, and it was not just because of the absolutely breathtaking beauty of the place (“We have always been good at choosing places to live…” ). In fact, the first thing that strikes you about the Abbey of Piona is the atmosphere, which is made up with a lot of “ingredients,” most of which are too impalpable to be expressed with words. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to pay tribute to such ineffable experiences.

April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Giovanni Bellini, Resurrection of Christ, 1475-79. Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Happy Easter
Joyeuses Pâques
Buona Pasqua
Frohe Ostern
Feliz Pascua
Boa Pascoa

April 3, 2010

Waiting for the Resurrection

Erbarme dich, mein Gott,
um meiner Zähren willen!
Schaue hier, Herz und Auge
weint vor dir bitterlich.

(Have mercy, my God,
for the sake of my tears!
See here, before you
heart and eyes weep bitterly.)

From the St Matthew Passion (Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244) by Johann Sebastian Bach. In Mixto Genere ensemble. Jerusalem views in video.

April 1, 2010

Easter Triduum

Attending Easter Triduum services (here). See you later.

The loudest complainers

It is a general popular error to imagine the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.